That your stomach hurts after eating a large meal, as happens at Christmas, is very normal. It is due to the fact that our digestive system is not used to so much quantity and has to make an extra effort. But if the pain does not pass or becomes very sharp and unbearable, you had better go to the emergency room. There are other problems that cause abdominal discomfort or pain that require medical attention.
On these dates we usually consume a lot of food, the foods are fattier (fried, stewed or stews with a lot of oil), there are more sauces and they are usually more seasoned. Nor do we respect the schedules, we can go many hours without eating and then binge or, directly, skip meals. “All this causes the digestive system to suffer, digestion is slower and heavier and a very common problem can occur in hospital emergency units. It is known as ‘dietary violation’ and the symptoms are postprandial fullness or heavy digestion “, explains Dr. Ángel Álvarez, a specialist in the digestive system at the San Carlos Clinical Hospital in Madrid.
On the other hand, by eating more, quickly and without chewing, the stomach has to do double duty: on the one hand, it has to grind what the teeth have not chewed. On the other hand, finding more food should secrete more acids and digestion also slows down. As if that were not enough, when we eat quickly and without paying attention, the system that regulates satiety does not work correctly. “The hormone leptin does not warn the brain that we are satiated and therefore we eat more, ” adds the doctor. Outcome? Binge eating and digestive upset.
What if it’s something more serious?
Those excesses with food can also favor other problems that we already have to face. “It is also common for patients with biliary colic or pancreatitis to come. Eating too much and drinking too much alcohol can trigger them,” says Álvarez.
So how do you tell if it is a simple indigestion or a more serious problem? Pain will give us the clue. “We have all had a heavy digestion on some occasion, we know how to identify it and, in addition, it usually remits after hours. But when it hurts more than normal, especially on the right side of the abdomen, it does not remit and/or we have vomiting and nausea we can think that it is biliary colic. If the pain is very intense and becomes almost unbearable it could be pancreatitis, “he warns.
Both disorders, although they are very painful and scare you, have a very good prognosis, but should be treated in the hospital or in the medical center. “With medication and a few days on a soft diet they subside,” says the doctor.
My throat burns
Another common problem during these dates is gastroesophageal reflux, especially if you eat a lot and the dishes are very strong and highly seasoned. It is commonly known as burning and occurs because stomach acids pass into the esophagus. “Normally it is calmed with an antacid. If it is not like this and this symptom is very recurrent, it is convenient that it be evaluated by a doctor,” he recommends.
Functional dyspepsia is also a common digestive disorder at Christmas. “It is a discomfort that is located in the upper digestive tract. Some patients may experience pain, bloating, heartburn or nausea. After an evaluation, it can be verified that there is no organic cause that justifies it. It simply occurs because one eats very quickly, digestion is very slow or we eat quantities for which our stomach is not used to, “he says. It is not a serious problem either and with a smooth diet or a treatment like omeprazole it improves.
Napping doesn’t help
Although it may be what we feel like the most after eating, taking a nap will make us wake up heavier, even with a headache and heartburn . Why it happens? When sleeping, our whole body slows down, including digestion. In addition, when lying down, we facilitate the passage of stomach acids to the esophagus, producing the acidity characteristic of these days.
Ideally, we should take a short walk after eating. In this way, we activate circulation and help our body digest food better. If we can not resist taking a nap, it is best that we do it sitting and no more than twenty minutes.
What if it’s poisoning?
This is another reason why our stomach can hurt after eating but it is not usual at Christmas but in autumn or summer. However, it can happen to you if you have eaten something in a bad state. The consequences? Abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting, and sometimes fever. Depending on the severity and severity of symptoms, hospital admission for symptomatic treatment and intravenous administration of serum may be necessary to restore lost fluids and prevent dehydration.
Tricks to avoid indigestion
The most advisable measure to avoid heavy digestion is prevention: eat slowly, in normal amounts, avoid very strong dishes and do not overdo it with alcohol. These other tricks can also make digestion easier:
Take breaks in the meal: although it is difficult when you share a table, try to practice mindfull eating or conscious feeding. It is as simple as savoring what you eat, retaining it in your mouth, noting its texture, its shape or the sensations that this food produces. In this way, you will eat more slowly and be satisfied earlier.
Compensate: If you are going to have a large lunch or dinner, compensate the rest of the day. Steam and prioritize vegetables and white fish.
The meat, better lean: do not abuse red meats and sausages as they contain fats that can make digestion heavier. Lean towards turkey meat or fish. Lamb and duck are also very indigestible meats.
Get together with the fruit: pineapple contains bromelain and papaya papain. They are enzymes that facilitate protein digestion and can help you feel better.
Can I take some herb?
There are some plants that can help you digest and avoid bloated stomachs, flatulence and gas, but “it is not advisable to take them on a daily basis because they could mask a digestive problem,” recalls the specialist. In fact, if the problem is recurrent, it is advisable to make an appointment with a professional of the digestive system or go to the GP for a referral to this specialist.
But if it is a specific problem and with a cause known as having eaten too much, you can turn to mint, anise or fennel teas. “These plants have been shown to relieve gas and bloating,” concludes Álvarez Sánchez. Chamomile, meanwhile, does not alleviate this type of discomfort.